Prevalence of Scientific Misconduct Among a Group of Researchers in Nigeria

Authors

  • Patrick Okonta,

  • Theresa Rossouw


  • Conflict of interest statement: No conflicts declared

Address for correspondence: Dr Patrick Okonta, MD, Dept of OBGYN, Delta State University Teaching Hospital, Oghara, Delta State, Nigeria 331101, Email: patrickokonta@yahoo.com.

Abstract

Background

There is a dearth of information on the prevalence of scientific misconduct from Nigeria.

Objectives

This study aimed at determining the prevalence of scientific misconduct in a group of researchers in Nigeria. Factors associated with the prevalence were ascertained.

Method

A descriptive study of researchers who attended a scientific conference in 2010 was conducted using the adapted Scientific Misconduct Questionnaire-Revised (SMQ-R).

Results

Ninety-one researchers (68.9%) admitted having committed at least one of the eight listed forms of scientific misconduct. Disagreement about authorship was the most common form of misconduct committed (36.4%) while plagiarism was the least (9.2%). About 42% of researchers had committed falsification of data or plagiarism. Analysis of specific acts of misconduct showed that committing plagiarism was inversely associated with years in research (Fisher exact p-value = 0.02); falsifying data was related to perceived low effectiveness of the institution's rules and procedures for reducing scientific misconduct (X2 = 6.44, p-value = 0.01); and succumbing to pressure from study sponsor to engage in unethical practice was related to sex of researcher (Fisher exact p-value = 0.02).

Conclusions

The emergent data from this study is a cause for serious concern and calls for prompt intervention. The best response to reducing scientific misconduct will proceed from measures that contain both elements of prevention and enforcement. Training on research ethics has to be integrated into the curriculum of undergraduate and postgraduate students while provision should be made for in-service training of researchers. Penalties against acts of scientific misconduct should be enforced at institutional and national levels.

Ancillary